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Conscious Cogn. 2013 Mar;22(1):174-83. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.11.011. Epub 2013 Jan 8.

Implicit learning of mappings between forms and metaphorical meanings.

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School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.


Previous research has shown that people can implicitly acquire mappings between word forms and literal meanings (Williams, 2004, 2005). We argue, from the metaphor-representation and embodiment perspectives, that people can unconsciously establish mappings between word forms and not only literal but also metaphorical meanings. Using Williams' (2005) paradigm, we found that transfer of form-meaning connections from a concrete domain (space) to an abstract domain (power) was achieved in a metaphor-consistent way without awareness. Our results support the view that unconscious knowledge can be flexibly deployed in an abstract way not previously explored in the implicit learning literature.

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